Often people point a finger labeling an individual as an introvert or an extrovert. Did you know that the term introvert or extrovert have varying degrees, which means that no one is either a complete introvert or a complete extrovert. Having said that, though every introvert is unique, most share certain common traits.
For instance, introverts have to experience over stimulation, and coping with such situations often leads to their withdrawal where they are stereotyped and perceived as shy, cold, aloof, rude and socially inept. If you have been closely associated with an introvert, you would rather agree that introverts love introspecting, enjoy their space of solitude and are often focused communicators. While there is a gap between how people perceive introverts and what they actually might be, it’s significant to understand and recognize their characteristics to aid in fostering their growth for sustenance in gregarious environment and with outgoing people; not to tag them.
Whether it’s the school, workplace or circle of friends, introverts can be identified in any group. Let’s start with the classrooms. Going down memory lane, do you remember that child in your class happily gazing out of the window amidst the noisy and chaotic group of students waiting for the next teacher to walk into the classroom? You might not have observed her, but teachers certainly did. It’s often true that extrovert students charm the facilitators and teachers often with their natural yet habitual demand for more attention. But, it’s equally challenging and indeed a responsibility of the teachers to nurture introverts and help them succeed too. Typically, in a classroom setting you could have observed introverts as those:
- Who follow the discussion with their eyes and intermittently join in. Many a times, they may retreat into silence for longer periods or abstain from voicing their opinion altogether.
- In a collaborative assignment to be undertaken by a group of students, introverts prefer listening more than speaking
- They may prefer sitting away from the crowd during recess to spend some lone time.
The challenge for the mentors here is to understand and respect the quiet time required for the student to recharge. Sometimes, group work could be mentally draining as introverts soak up more with their listening abilities. A facilitator’s role here would be to encourage participation with care without making it apparent and uncomfortable for the introvert student. A good way would be to offer the group members bits of work to be taken up independently for some time before reassembling for a discussion. The strategy and flexibility to handle every age group of student would be distinguished and customized. Professing alternative ways to participate which allow greater fluidity in pedagogy can help recharge introverts and partake better.
As you graduate from school, you move out of a rather secure environment to be pushed into a grander challenge and unknown territory that awaits you. This means that introversion may well translate to the workplace. Does operating solo or seeking comfort among groups of like-minded people keep you away from recognition and success? An introvert may have an opinion, but not prompt in sharing them. Such incidences could hinder your career growth and lower chances of being recognized. You may ask how and why? Outspoken individuals usually share ideas readily as they enjoy being heard first and simultaneously seek the appreciation. Sometimes, extroverts have an underlying intent to overshadow the introvert person as a thrill. It’s true that an extrovert is often perceived as a go-getter who is ambitious as compared to the contemplative individuals. However, the challenge here is to not let the seemingly enthusiastic individual overshadow you or steal the piece of cake. Here are a few ways in which an introvert individual can outshine at workplace.
Prepare and communicate well
An opinion matters and to have one you may need to research well. Whether in a meeting or in a presentation, you will feel much better if you’re able to communicate your thoughts than simply nod to that of others. Sometimes, asking a relevant question also makes a lot of difference as you will be value adding to the conversation in a certain way.
As an introvert, you may seek comfort in staying around like-minded people, but that won’t completely help. It’s best to move out a little of your comfort zone and explore the world of the outgoing lot. Colleagues who are extrovert might look highly competitive, but that does not suggest that their being that way is to demean your personality. They often have an opinion and speak their minds attributed to their nature. It’s best to befriend such people, praise their achievements and build an alliance. Studies suggest that while introverts may not be skilled in networking always but can build long term relationships. Building an alliance will positively contribute to building reputation at workplace and serve as a confidence booster.
Acknowledge and display your skills
If you are aware of your skills and strengths, you will naturally feel motivated and productive. There is no indignity in recognizing and taking pride in one’s skills. Identifying your own strengths, embracing them and pushing forth are steps towards becoming your own leader. This means that nurture your intrinsic needs like that of listening, attention paying, etc. that subtly define the introvert nature.
Beyond school and office, we love hanging out with friends. If introverts are perceived as not being talkative or assertive, does it mean they find it challenging to navigate friendship? If you are on the opposite end of the spectrum, try this approach. Since introverts are good listeners, its best to rope them into a dialogue on topics closely relevant to your life as well. Associating with you will make for a comfortable base to strike a fruitful conversation. If you are an introvert and going to attend an event with a houseful people; listen to some music with your earphones on or read a book or engage yourself into a quite activity while you travel to the venue. Gain your peace of mind before you go out.
Loaded discussions and people’s concern around your being introvert need not worry you. Prioritising, recharging and regrouping as and when you are ready with some of those handy tips could help maintaining social relationships and propel career growth. Trust yourself and take a leap of faith beyond your comfort zone!
Article by Rochita.